See this movie: Wall-E
I went on the recommendation of a friend - I would have skipped it otherwise - I took Menticia, and she (rising eighth grader) was as absorbed as I was. It made me grateful that, regardless of all other disasters, at least I can still stand on my own two feet.
Mystery: everybody on the Buy N Large spaceship was white and the few who spoke had American accents. Where was the rest of the world's population?
Wall-E for President
by Frank Rich for the New York Times, July 6, 2008
[Wall-E's] enormous box-office gross last weekend swelled a total Hollywood take that was up 20 percent from a year ago. (You know America’s economy is cooked when everyone flocks to the movies.)
Sitting among rapt children mostly under 12, I felt as if I’d stepped through a looking glass. This movie seemed more realistically in touch with what troubles America this year than either the substance or the players of the political food fight beyond the multiplex’s walls.
The kids at "Wall-E" were in deep contemplation of a world in peril — and of the future that is theirs to make what they will of it. Compare any 10 minutes of the movie with 10 minutes of any cable-news channel, and you’ll soon be asking: Exactly who are the adults in our country and who are the cartoon characters?
Almost any description of this beautiful film makes it sound juvenile or didactic, and it is neither. So I’ll keep to the minimum. "Wall-E" is a robot-meets-robot love story, as simple (and often as silent) as a Keaton or Chaplin fable, set largely in a smoldering and abandoned Earth, circa 2700, where the only remaining signs of life are a cockroach and a single green sprout.
The robot of the title is a battered mobile trash compactor whose sole knowledge of human civilization and intimacy comes from the avalanche of detritus the former inhabitants left behind — a Rubik’s Cube, an engagement ring and, most strangely, a single stuttering VCR tape of "Hello, Dolly!," a candied Hollywood musical from 1969. Wall-E keeps rewinding to the song that finds the young lovers pledging their devotion until "time runs out."
Humanity is not dead in "Wall-E," but it is in peril. The world’s population cruises the heavens ceaselessly on a mammoth luxury spaceship that it boarded in the early 22nd century after the planet became uninhabitable. For government, there is a global corporation called Buy N Large, which keeps the public wired to umpteenth-generation iPods and addicted to a diet of supersized liquefied fast food and instantly obsolete products. The people are too bloated to walk — they float around on motorized Barcaloungers — but they are happy shoppers.
And yet these rabid consumers, like us, are haunted by what paradise might have been lost. How can they reclaim what matters? How can Earth be recolonized? ... a fleeting green memory of the extinct miracle of photosynthesis is as dazzling and elusive as the emerald city of Oz.
You have to wonder what these same kids make of the political show their parents watch on TV at home. The fierce urgency of now that drives "Wall-E" and its yearning for change is absent in both the Barack Obama and McCain campaigns these days.
For all the hyperventilation on the left about Mr. Obama’s rush to the center — some warranted, some not — what’s more alarming is how small-bore and defensive his campaign has become... he is drifting away from the leadership he promised and into the focus-group-tested calculation patented by Mark Penn in his disastrous campaign for Hillary Clinton.
What Mr. Obama has going for him during this tailspin is that his opponent seems mortifyingly out-to-lunch. Mr. McCain is a man who aspires to lead the largest economy in the world and yet recently admitted that he doesn’t know how to use a computer... What Mr. McCain has going for him is a press corps that often ignores or covers up such embarrassments.
Mr. McCain should be required to see "Wall-E" to learn just how far adrift he is from an America whose economic fears cannot be remedied by his flip-flop embrace of the Bush tax cuts (for the wealthy) and his sham gas-tax holiday (for everyone else). Mr. Obama should see it to be reminded of just how bold his vision of change had been before he settled into a front-runner’s complacency.
Americans should see it to appreciate just how much things are out of joint on an Independence Day when a cartoon robot evokes America’s patriotic ideals with more conviction than either of the men who would be president.
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